Over the years, I have had many clients with problems in their business that they didn’t know how to solve. They would invite me in to take a look to see if I could solve their problem. And, sure enough, a very easy solution to the problem presents itself in quick order. It's not that I am smarter than them, but because I came in with no pre-conceived ideas or past experience with the company, and simply came in with a fresh set of eyes and logical business sense.
Let’s talk about an example. I had one client that hit a wall with growth. They successfully grew from zero to over $10 million in revenues, but then growth flatlined for a couple years, and despite their efforts to break through that level, revenues just stayed flat. After I came in and looked at the historical sales and marketing efforts, it became perfectly clear what the problem was: they were not materially investing in sales and marketing at all!
The founder had assumed that a “business as usual” approach would help him solve the problem, with him being the primary salesperson of the company. But that presented a huge bottleneck for the business. One person has a fixed capacity for selling, and regardless how good he was at selling, he was never going to sell more, without expanding the sales team and investing in marketing to help drive new leads.
The point here is sometimes a CEO, especially a founding CEO, is just “too close” to the business, immersed in the day-to-day work, that they can’t take a needed pause to see the forest through the trees.
A few key learnings here:
1. Set aside time to get out of the day-to-day work to better think strategically about how you are running your business.
2. Understand that just because something worked before, it doesn’t mean it is going to continue to work forever.
3. The needs of the business will change as your business scales, so adjust your plans accordingly.
4. Oftentimes, bringing in a fresh set of eyes can help you more clearly see what you may not have been able to see on your own.
It doesn’t matter whether that fresh set of eyes is a paid consultant, a mentor or a peer in a similar role at a different company. It just matters that you quickly identify when you have a need for an outside perspective, and bring someone in to help you brainstorm through the problem.
Odds are, an easy solution will be staring you in the face, but you just can’t see it.